By Byron Mutingwende
The Zimbabwe Community Health Intervention Research (ZiCHIRe) through its community sports programme has given an opportunity to adolescents to share their experiences in a relaxed atmosphere by availing netball and soccer tournaments at the Dzivarasekwa Sports Stadium in Harare.
Participants from Sista2Sista Clubs, Brotha2Brother Comprehensive Sexuality Education, parent-child communication from Harare districts had an opportunity to meet and share experiences and gain further knowledge on sexual reproductive health and rights (SRHR) issues.
“As ZICHIRE, we saw it fit to provide a sporting platform for adolescents so that we can take them away from risky activities such as drug abuse and unprotected sex.
“Sporting is a unifying activity that brings together people from all walks of life on one platform where they can access integrated services,” Mr. Chikanya said.
The services on offer on the sidelines of the sporting activities include testing and counselling, one-one-one counselling, information education communication (IEC) materials and life skills.
Speaking to Spiked Online Media during the sporting galore, Karitas Manhambara, the Socio Worker of the Dzivarasekwa Social Services department in the City of Harare said the initiative was important in that it is in line with the commemoration of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence.
“This is an important event to us since we work as a community. Our aim as social leaders and other organisations such as the Sports Recreation Commission and ZICHIRE is to create a generation that if free from GBV,” Manhambara said.
Michelle Katendere from Ward in Dzivarasekwa Extension who was participating in the netball tournament expressed satisfaction in the sporting initiative.
“As a member of the Sista2Sista Club, we were taught life skills including sewing and knitting. In terms of SRHR, I was taught on how to protect myself against STIs and unwanted pregnancies,.
“I also learnt about the importance of sharing the challenges I meet in my every day life with my peers. Experience sharing offloads the burden of the challenges we may be facing at home because at the Sista2Sista clubs, we are given the opportunity to interact and share some jokes. I am now an honest person,: Michelle said.
Stephen Dhliwayo, Councillor for Ward 40 in Dzivarasekwa said the activity was very important because it provided education to youths about the importance of maintaining peace.
“In my view, maintaining peace is important in addressing gender based violence. This activity must not be a one-day event and should continue into the future since it is moulding the future of Zimbabwean children to be progressive citizens. Sport can be a source of livelihood to our youths. It can be a very productive industry which can sustain communities and nations,” Councillor Dhliwayo said.
Shingirai Mutsvene, the District Sport and Recreation Officer for Warren Park-Mabelreign in the Ministry of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation hailed the sporting activities.
“By working with ZiCHIRe as our community development partner, we managed to end 2019 in style through a football and netball tournament meant to call for an end to the scourge of gender based violence.
“Courtesy of this event, the lives of residents in the host suburb Dzivarasekwa and other communities like Mufakose, Kuwadzana and Mabvuku which had teams that participated in the tournament will be changed for the better especially considering that the participants and spectators were educated on the dangers of such social vices as drug abuse, unprotected sex and early child marriages. As Sports and Recreation Department, we encourage the use of sport and recreation as an intervention tool to curb GBV and the aforementioned vices,” Mr. Mutsvene said.
He encouraged ZiCHIRe and other community development partners to seize the opportunity availed through the edutainment component of sport and recreation to offer SRHR services to adolescents.
All sports have set rules that should be adhered to by participants. This, in a way, builds the mental toughness in the athletes, which culminates in them having the readiness to deal with real life challenges.
This activity has been made possible through funding provided by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). ZiCHIRe was grateful for the continued technical and financial support that it receives from UNFPA for its community interventions in Harare and Mashonaland East provinces.